Denard After Dentist

Submitted by Brian on September 12th, 2011 at 11:49 AM

9/10/2011 – Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31 – 2-0


is this real life?

Not only can Denard Robinson redefine All-America teams, average nearly 500 yards per game against Notre Dame, and pilot the most insane fourth quarter Michigan Stadium has ever seen, but he can sum up what happened on Saturday in a single word:

If you still need evidence that Denard can do things other people can't, there you go. Because I've got nothing. I can gape, slack-jawed and twitching, if you'd like. Oh, and I can put my finger between my lips and go "brrrrrrrrrbbrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrrbb" with crazy googly eyes. Also I can spin in a circle going "yip yip yip yip yip."

These are my capabilities. All other functions are currently offline. Attempt to access higher cognition and you will receive 503 Gateway Not Found.

That's fine. There's nothing to say that "brrrrrrbrbrbrbrbrrbrbrb" doesn't cover anyway. I am so high, you guys. I don't even know what I'm saying.


Seriously. I'm really struggling here to put words in the computer. I guess… okay.

The thing I really really hated about the first three quarters (other than everything) was the way the offense made Denard mortal. This extended beyond the usual reasons 90 yards of offense in a half make you homicidal. Not only were we lost and hopeless in our first serious game after returning nine starters from one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but the guy who didn't transfer when his offense got fired out from under him was busy playing out everyone's worst-case scenarios.

I don't think I can take football games in which I'd rather have Alex Carder than Denard Robinson. A return of freshman Denard looking like a sad panda is too depressing for a multitude of reasons but mostly because just look at him:


Shoehorning him into an offense that doesn't fit him is a crime against man and panda and manpanda. He had to be dying in the first half as he flung balls to Tacopants and ran waggles the entire stadium could predict. People twittered me about moving him to RB so Gardner can get on the field. I couldn't block them from my phone. The tweets sat there, whispering evil things into my ear.

As I projected Denard's state of mind my own got inky black. The road ahead seemed like another two years of painful rebuilding towards a goal Denard will never see, his career relegated to that of Brandon Graham when Desmond Howard seemed in reach. It's going to kill me if Denard ends up a really good player on a mediocre team for the duration of his career and Michigan doesn't end up making anyone who wants 16 in the future wear a patch with dreads on it. It's going to be worse if he's not even a really good player. Someone is at fault for this travesty.

I was running advanced equations of blame assignment amongst Bill Martin, Rich Rodriguez, Al Borges, Dave Brandon, and bloody fate when Denard rolled out. Corralled by a Notre Dame defender, he stood perfectly still but still delivered a game-changing dart to Junior Hemingway before two more ND players could close in.

From there the delirium took over.


That game was delirious because of the many improbable events stacked on each other. Jeremy Gallon jump-ball touchdowns. Tommy Rees's aiming device locked on Michael Floyd. Tommy Rees throwing a ball backwards for no reason. More jump balls to Junior Hemingway and Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon turning invisible with 23 seconds left. All the reasons it left you with your finger between your teeth are reasons to wonder about the smoothness of this transition (not very), the repeatability of such miracles (even less).

This isn't to blame anyone—it seems that coaches are who they are and as much as I want to, you can't hire a guy based on the two years left you've got with Denard. But I hope I'm not the only one who felt a sense of foreboding in the midst of the joy and relief. We've seen this script the last two years, and never has it been as rickety.

Michigan has to fix some stuff—lots of stuff—by the Big Ten season. The stakes are only Denard's career, everyone's faith in the Ethical Les Miles theory of Hoke's success, and the very survival of pandas in the wild. I'll take the escape. I wonder what happens when the drugs wear off and real life reasserts itself.

For now, though:

The game is ova!

Non-Bullets Of WHAT?


Pantheon placement. I think this is below Braylonfest—but only just—in the competition for Best Comeback Ever (that people 32 or under remember). For Michigan to pull Braylonfest out they had to recover an onside kick and survive not just triple overtime by an oft-forgotten 50-yard field goal attempt at the end of regulation that was set up by a horrible pass interference call.

A good proxy for the level of kickass in your comeback is how many people left the stadium early. While there were some people who took off when ND made it 24-7, they don't compare to the legions who left early during that MSU game. And winning that eventually got Michigan a Rose Bowl appearance. The season-long significance of this ND game is going to be lower.

It easily beats out the Buffalo Stampede game, since it's not against Minnesota or in the Metrodome, and then it's a long way to fourth place.

As far as best game ever… it depends on what you're rating it on. I like my defining victories to be well-played and not hinge on the opposing quarterback throwing the ball backwards for no reason. In terms of pure drama it's up there but with both teams unranked and not looking likely to defy that I'd say most Ohio State games before we stopped being competitive had more salt to them. We lost all the ones that came down to the last play, though.

The entire Denard interview. If you missed this, you should fix that:



Commence the bitching about the offense. Watching Michigan run a play-action bomb from the I-formation after averaging exactly two yards per carry out of the I on previous attempts was exactly what I was beating into the ground over the offseason. No one is scared of Michigan's crappy backs running power out of the I-form so no one has to cheat to it. Thus instead of Worst Waldo plays featuring Roy Roundtree and twenty yards of grass we got a lot of hopeful downfield jump balls into excellent coverage.

Michigan was lucky as hell to get most of those. That was a Jeff Bowden special right there. I'm not alone in this. There has to be some adaptation now that we know the relative success rates of manball and Denardball. When Denard's averaging 7.5 YPC (sack excluded) and the rest of the backs under are 2, power is a lost cause.

Denard has to be the focal point of the offense, fragile or no. And the new offense seemed to remove Denard's legs as the primary threat without actually reducing his carries: he had 15 carries* in just 50 snaps. Project that to last year's 72 offensive snaps per game and Denard would have carried 22(!) times. What's the point of throwing away snaps on two-yard runs from the I?

*[sack removed.]

junior-hemingway-leapPrimary thing that may just work. "Chuck it up to Hemingway" may be the world's most primitive passing game but dang if it doesn't work. Hemingway not only has great leaping ability, he's enormous and therefore capable of boxing out opponents. Add in an uncanny knack for being able to high-point the ball and he's a hell of a lot like Marquise Walker before Walker got the dropsies as a senior.

Primary thing that did work from under center. Vincent Smith's throwback screen touchdown was a great call since it used Denard's legs. He rolls, defense freaks, he throws back, Smith should have an easy touchdown if any of the offensive linemen block that one linebacker, Smith makes it happen anyway. Contrast with the earlier screen where a short Denard has to float a ball over a guy leaping in his face and ends up throwing it eight yards too far and getting it picked off.

And introducing… Facepalm Guy. The facepalm guy from the sad fugee face picture in the "So I Was Like" post: the the new Lloyd Brady? He's already won an award for "Media Criticism" from Doctor Saturday.

1) He caught ESPN's camera's capturing his facepalm moment and gave them an oh-no-you-di'in't:

2) After the game he… well, he did this:

Can a brother get a Facepalm Guy touchdown Jesus photoshop?

(HT to MGoUser Haterade.)

Defensive events. Brandon Herron and Mike Jones were supposedly out with injury but if I had to guess they were not so badly hurt they couldn't play and Michigan was trying out their other options at WLB. Desmond Morgan started, played poorly—he got trucked like he was in a BTN practice highlight-type substance—and was yanked. Then Brandin Hawthorne came in and may have been plausible. He knifed into the backfield for one key TFL on third and short. I'm guessing he was at least partially responsible for a number of Cierre Wood runs that went for big yardage, but we'll see. WLB remains a sore spot.

The other sore spot is an alarming, unexpected one: WDE. Craig Roh had zero tackles for the second straight week and while he did get a QB hurry or two he seems less impactful from that spot than he did last year. I mean, last year he split two ND linemen and picked up a huge TFL en route to a +11 day. This year he'll be lucky to break even. Hopefully he's still sick. I wonder if we see more Black in the short term.

How did Jordan Kovacs only have eight tackles?

BONUS: Will Campbell got held! By an offensive lineman!

Special teams. Matt Wile has been at least average spelling Hagerup, and with only one more real-ish game left before the latter returns it looks like Michigan will escape that suspension without much real damage. I still hate the regular punt. If ND's John Goodman hadn't made inexplicable fair catches he had tons of room on two of Wile's five punts despite Wile's excellent hangtime.

The patch thing. It's pretty cool. Some potential tweaks and additions:

  • Should we un-retire numbers? I could get behind a 98 if it meant someone was going to be sitting in front of a locker that said Tom Harmon. You'd have to ask whoever the nearest relative is.
  • Further locker room additions. Everyone who's been an All-American should have their name engraved in a fashion more understated than this legends designation…
    ...but still be there. Having Chappius and Oosterbaan and Friedman and McKenzie and Dierdorf and Long's names up in the locker room would be a nice way to recognize All-Americans past.
  • Next up. AC and Woodson. If they don't put the retired numbers back in circulation. Jake Long would probably be next up way down the road.
  • The patch is too big. That's just, like, my opinion, man.

So there's this. Exploit your children for fun and profit:

Profit not applicable.

Pom-poms and RAWK and crowd noise. Is it just me or was the stadium not actually very loud when it would help out the most? The pom-poms encouraged people to use their hands shaking pom-poms instead of making noise and while the piped-in music was indeed loud, when it cut out the people in the stadium making noise were largely going "OH oh oh oh oh, OH oh oh oh oh" instead of "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA." The latter is louder.

Putting aside the insults to the Great Tradition they represent, is the noise level created by the frippery mostly cosmetic? It has seemed much louder in Michigan Stadium—I was frustrated as I was screaming myself hoarse on the last drive while people around me shook their little plastic thingies. Plastic thingy shaking is not that intimidating, people.

And then there's the guy two rows in front of you who's shaking the thing constantly so you can't see the game. In the South they have a protocol about these things: raise that thing above your shoulder during a play and you're not getting that arm back. Here we get them every five years or so and there's always someone who thinks row 14 is the last one.


Ace took a video of the final kickoff. I'm going to point you to "so I was like" again because dammit I can. Chunkums took some killer photos, but hasn't animated them yet:


ST3 goes inside the box score. Michael Scarn says trying to describe that game was like taking a picture of Bigfoot. Post-ND MonuMental riff by ppToilet. (You can't choose your username, man, it chooses you.) MonuMental himself shows up to modify his Denard action figure for the occasion.


Pretty much the best. An obviously drunk Jeff at Maize Pages digs up the fantastically entertaining Roundtree-Shaw Newlywed game BTN video in response to the delerium.

Photo galleries and assorted media. Pregame shots from MNB Nation. Other shots from MNBN. The Shredder took a zillion shots. Tailgating from Also the game. Here's a great stadium shot from Melanie Maxwell:


Also here's this dude:


The whole gallery is worth checking out.

The Desmond Howard emospective has also been youtubed. Try not to get dusty. Ryan Terpstra is making a habit of filming the hell out of ridiculous ND victories:

Wolverine Historian put together a 28 minute highlight reel.

Column-type events. Wojo. More Wojo. MVictors also fills you in on the techno viking behind Hoke: yes, it's Steve Everitt, and no, you do not want to get between him and his cubs. Kyle Meinke says Denard was a big part of the offense and the running backs weren't and that's not so cool. Florek in the Daily.

UGA/M dual-fan Michael at Braves & Birds wonders whether it's better to play poorly and win (as Michigan did) or play well and lose (as Georgia did).

Entertaining serieseses of bullets. MVictors:

On the sunny side, they pulled out all the stops in the press box for the media on hand.  Witness the butter dish of victory:

butter dish

This might have been Brandon's special bonus.

Touch the Banner:

[Robinson's] total of 446 yards and 5 touchdowns was excellent, but how he got there was strange. Through three quarters of football, he was 4-for-14 passing (if that accuracy rate sounds familiarly horrible, that's because it's the same as Michigan's kickers circa 2010) for 136 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.  In the fourth stanza, Robinson went 8-for-11 for 217 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception, plus a recovered Stephen Hopkins fumble that he turned into a touchdown.



That graph is intended as a baseline estimator for a team's real-time win probability and is independent of situation, but the site also offers a crude win probability calculator, which, while it's calibrated to an NFL scale, can at least give us a decent estimate of how unlikely Michigan's victory was: four percent, Michigan's win probability after Notre Dame's slot receiver scampered into the endzone without a defender in site. Denard Robinson laughs at your probabilities and says, "Really? Oh man, that's crazy," and throws the ball to Jeremy Gallon standing alone in the Notre Dame secondary.

Maize and Blue Nation wins best headline: "The Denard. The Denard. The Denard."

National takes: Adam Jacobi marvels and notes that Robinson couldn't throw the ball even when he was completing passes; he also points out that uh… the Big Ten is not so much this year. Doctor Saturday:

Here, instead of merely covering poorly, Notre Dame subsequently failed to cover Wolverine receiver Jeremy Gallon at all, incredibly freeing him for a 64-yard sprint to the Irish 16-yard line with eight seconds left for a) A couple shots at the winning touchdown; b) A shot at a field goal to tie; or c) A confused catastrophe that left 110,000 people contemplated mass hara-kiri. With all of every one of those people secretly fearing c), Robinson delivered the dagger.

Bruce Feldman:

Robinson was, again, heroic for Michigan. He has brutalized the Irish the past two seasons, rolling up a mind-boggling 948 yards of total offense to go with eight TDs. His performance in the fourth quarter Saturday night was downright epic: 7 of 9, 202 yards, three passing touchdowns to go with six carries for 24 yards and another TD. In all, he accounted for a staggering 226 of his team's 229 yards.

In Case You Live Under A Rock

Title reference.



September 12th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

It was the deep balls between the 20s that were driving me crazy.  I thought our passing game plan (especially in the first half but also in the 2nd half) was a great gameplan for Chad Henne or John Navarre, but one that did not properly exploit the thread of Denard taking off with the football.  


September 12th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

The adaptation part here is key. Borges (and Mattison) are finding out what and who works in these games. Practice only goes so far. They (and we) don't know how good our line is. They don't know whether power will work against a good team. They don't know whether we can line up Hopkins in the I and have him gain tough yards. (Answer: no.) They don't know how well Denard will throw downfield and play within the pocket. 

The measure for this year is how well Borges finds things that work. It seems in this game that he eventually did. The downfield jump balls were adjustments to ND lining their corners up to take away short routes inside and forcing Denard to throw deep. So far this team has shown they get better as games go on and I hope that micro trend will be continued across the macro course of the season. That's something that was not the case for RichRod's teams, as fun as they were to watch when the offense was working. 


September 12th, 2011 at 11:41 PM ^

The only difference between this game and last year's Iowa or Wisconsin game is that the defense actually held the Irish after down by 3 scores.  Actually, the offense changed quite a bit and people said Iowa and Wisconsin gave up and that is why we could move the chains in the second half. So which is it? You can't, in one breath, praise Hoke and Borges for doing the exact same thing RichRod did and then in the next breath say "just joking, RichRod was awful at this."


September 12th, 2011 at 12:38 PM ^

I don't think it's an answer to simply say that every play should be designed around Denard's running ability. I don't think that strategy works in the long run. It might catch teams by surprise at first, but after they have an opportunity to game plan for it, it will become inconsistent at best and ineffective at worst. You need to have some balance on offense to maintain consistency.


September 12th, 2011 at 12:54 PM ^

I agree. That was a great play, but only because it was used sparingly (on average, once or twice per game). I still think that you need to be able to run a normal drop back passing game to establish success. It isn't fair to ask Denard to be both Steve Slaton and Pat White and think that he is going to single handedly dominate good defenses.

As Denard continues to learn the offense, I think he will continue to get better in the passing game. There are always hiccups when you install a new playbook and it usually isn't until the second year that the team really learns the ins and outs of an offensive system. I think that this year will be a learning experience and by next year, we'll see what Denard is capable of under Borges.


September 12th, 2011 at 12:39 PM ^

QBs have to be able to throw down the field. Plain and simple. Denard had a lot of makable throws and time to look for receivers, whether he's a run-first or pass-first guy he's got to be able to make those throws.

I think the idea from Borges is incorporate passes early so that the defenses, who clearly don't want to see Denard run and focus on preventing that, respect the pass and open up Denard's ability to run around a bit. 

Of course, that being said I still think Borges could have done better than he did. The times he let Denard run were horribly predictable, and there should have been more rollouts because Denard looked very uncomfortable in the pocket.

But there's only so much you can do when your O-line isn't creating holes for your RBs and your QB isn't able to complete passes to open receivers.


September 12th, 2011 at 4:21 PM ^

I don't see how that's different from saying "if Steven Threet were fast the spread option would be way more effective."

Come on, that's a silly comparison. Threet had no speed. Denard has some accuracy. He doesn't throw Henne lasers, but he completed 62% last year. While he didn't have a great overall day, he did thread the needle a couple of times, most notably on the one to Hemingway where he had a defender holding on to his ankle. It's not like it's normal for Denard to start out 2-10 passing. He had an unusually bad first half.


September 12th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

Can someone explain to me why ROLLING OUT THE QUARTERBACK somehow takes away the threat of a run by the quarterback?  Play action rollouts are designed to threaten the edge of the defense and force defenders to choose whether to come up or stay back.

Yeah, no one's afraid of Stephen Hopkins running the ball...but on a rollout, they have to be concerned about Hopkins running the ball, Denard passing the ball, or Denard getting to the edge with green grass in front of him.

I don't understand all the hand wringing.  What many people really have an issue with is "Oh my God, look at all those wide open receivers running 40 yards downfield that Denard can't hit more than 1 out of 5 times!!!!!!!!!!"  And if you're really concerned that Denard can't hit open receivers running downfield, then maybe your complaint should be less about Al Borges's playcalling and more about who's throwing the ball.

For the record, I'm not suggesting that Denard should be benched.  I'm simply saying that inaccurate quarterbacks are going to be inaccurate, no matter who's calling the plays.


September 12th, 2011 at 1:13 PM ^

This exactly.  I screamed more than a few times for Denard to take off as oceans of green opened up once he rolled out of the pocket.  His decision making was definitely questionable, the receivers made some fantastic catches.  His ability to keep plays alive is what can make him so dangerous in this offense if he takes off a little bit more.  

His short passes are still pretty good if the receivers don't drop 3 or 4 of them.  The deep ball is a  risk but less so when Hemingway is the target.  Of course not being down by 17 points most of the game will probably help the play variety.


September 12th, 2011 at 2:10 PM ^

they could call the different kinds of pass plays -- e.g., the screen to Vincent Smith, the rollouts -- that they called during the last few drives, but not before.  Nobody's denying Borges credit for eventually adapting.  But isn't it fair game to wonder how big a fourth-quarter hole you need to be in before you remember to use your quarterback's special skill set?  I don' t understand your view on Denard -- how is it that he generally can't be counted on to be accurate, and yet he somehow became accurate in the fourth quarter?  Couldn't it be because the play calling was different, and better suited to Denard?


September 12th, 2011 at 2:29 PM ^

I honestly didn't see a huge difference in the play calling from Half 1 to Half 2.  They were largely the same types of plays, except Denard started completing the throws.  That's about it.

I didn't say that Denard is incapable of being accurate.  He throws accurate passes sometimes, but not extremely often.  Please tell me you understand that it's possible for someone to be an overall inaccurate thrower but to have streaks of good accuracy.  You understand that...right?

For example, I'm not a good three-point shooter...but one time I played Around the World and hit like 6 in a row.


September 12th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

(1)  Shotgun/roll-out on pass to Hemingway with ND guy wrapped around his leg

(2)  Under center/I-form pocket pass on 4th quarter INT to Gallon in the endzone

(3)  Shotgun pass to Grady in second-to-last drive, followed by

(4)  Roll-out screen to V. Smith

(5)  Shotgun/scramble out of pocket on final-drive pass to Gallon

And, of course, there's the fact that Denard's big runs (including the ones that kept the second-to-last drive alive) came out of the spread-ish formation similar to what Michigan used last year.  Since we know it is possible to also pass out of that formation, what exactly is the point of having Denard operate as an I-formation pocket passer?  Whatever you think about his accuracy, there's sufficient data (for me, at least) that he's both less accurate as a pocket passer and (indisputably) less of a threat to run when he lines up under center in the I-form.  But if you'd rather analyze by resort to your last game of Horse, rather than Denard's actual body of work as Michigan quarterback, go ahead.


September 12th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

I was going to post the same thing. Give Borges some credit for the flexibility he has shown. It's not remotely realistic to think that he was going to come in here and just run a pure shotgun spread. And why should he? That's not what he knows best and it's not what got him here. Between a couple bad drops, Toussaint not playing, and Denard inconsistency things got ugly early, but not let's jump off the bridge.


September 12th, 2011 at 12:34 PM ^

This about summarizes my view of the 1st half. We were playing against a very good defensive front, Denard was particularly inaccurate (even for him), we didn't have our #1 option at tailback, and our receivers didn't really cover themselves in glory.


September 12th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

I agree with most of what you guys are saying but can we please stop acting like we know that Toussaint would have made a difference based on his being named the starter against WMU or whatever other scant evidence exists?  I don't care who is technically named the starter these first few games, we don't have a #1 back yet, and Toussaint has a grand total of 19 career carries. 


September 12th, 2011 at 1:12 PM ^

Honestly the lack of push out of the o-line on running downs was what worried me most. Even if we had a great RB, there wasn't much room there.

My other concern was that every pass call in the first half seemed to be a deep ball that would be 50-50 even for RoboHenne - Denard's not going to complete those that often, and they seemed like wasted downs when we needed to play to move the chains. Denard is reasonably accurate on short flat-trajectory throws - I would have liked to see more of those called.


September 12th, 2011 at 1:05 PM ^

It's HOW you use him.  Denard's going to get hurt if they keep running him into an 8 man box like he's Tebow.  Why is nearly every college football analyst saying this staff needs to use him better?

This isn't rocket science.  You don't change your system for Threet, Sheridan, or even an average QB.  You do change for an elite talent like Denard.

Blue in Yarmouth

September 12th, 2011 at 1:20 PM ^

After the game I thought a lot about what has been going on so far. I figured it was just me missing how electric Denard was last year and I was being irrational, but my thoughts were:

I can't really complain about Borges trying to implement his offense right away when I stuck up for RR for doing the same thing, rather than adapting his offense to suit his players. Then, as I continued to ponder it further, I got to the exact point you did where I said....there is a big difference between Denard and Threet. That offense wouldn't have been good no matter what they were running. In contrast, we know this offense can be lethal with Denard operating out of the gun. 

I don't think it would be irrationale to expect Borges to change his play-calling to better suit Denard in the future, but we have to remember, this was his first real test. I have faith in Borges and think he will make further adaptations to better utilize Denard.

Fuzzy Dunlop

September 12th, 2011 at 1:24 PM ^

Well, most college football analysts are idiots, whose analysis consists of saying "unleash Denard!"  Which is a great concept, but it doesn't explain how exactly Denard should be "unleashed".  Denard was given plenty of opportunities to run and through in the first half -- if he had completed more passes, would he have been sufficiently "unleashed"?  The big difference between the first three quarters and the 4th was that the passes were actually being completed -- they certainly weren't running Denard any more than they had previously. 


September 12th, 2011 at 5:05 PM ^

I agree saying "unleash Denard!" is not helpful. But I disagree that it is simply giving him opportunities to run that constitutes using him to his fullest potential. There is a difference between running him and actually designing an offense around designing the best scheme for him to run in. In my opinion that is what RR did best, and simply having Borges (or any OC) retain some of RR's best QB run plays and then say that they are giving him (and the offense) the best chance to be successful is not the same thing.


September 12th, 2011 at 12:13 PM ^

Great idea Brian, "Denard has to be the focal point of the offense, fragile or no. "   Worked out really well in the Big Ten last year.  I love Denard as much as anyone else, but he will get beat up in the Big Ten, and he will fumble in the Big Ten.  We need an RB to step up, and we have to give said RB an opportunity to do so.


As for the tweets you got about Devin.  I wouldn't have minded seeing him after the first half, if it weren't for our shitty depth at QB.  You can't sit Denard for Devin, it's too risky.  If Denard gets upset, then you only have 2 scholarship QB's.  Plus you lose a leader.  That said, as far as QB play goes, his was atrocious throwing the ball.  


I'll take the win, and Go Blue.  But, if we are going to go 4-4 or better in the Big Ten we need better line play on both sides of the ball.  With better line play a RB will emerge, and Denard will be an even bigger threat.


September 12th, 2011 at 8:03 PM ^

We didn't win more last year because we had a defense that was pathetic, and special teams as poor. Our problems in B10 play had NOTHING to do with Denard Robinson getting injured. With a merely mediocre defense and placekicker last year, we go 9-3 or 10-2 and we aren't havng this conversation because RR is still the coach. Why do some people continue to talk about last year like the offense was the problem?


September 12th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

I think on those long runs, you will be doing -RPS like mad....seemed like MICH was peeling Martin off on zone coverage and the runs went right over the spot he vacated

Maybe that's Hawthorne's responsibility, I dont know....but I thought #7 played some electric football out there. He, Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens look to be a major upgrade over the LB unit on the field a year ago



September 12th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

I was watching him a lot and he played a good amount of WDE when we went to a 4-2-5 nickel w/ Roh playing SDE.

And I thought Will Campbell played the best game of his career. He held up well to double teams and helped stop ND on those two 3rd and ones in the second half.


September 12th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

Totally agree on the long runs upo the middle. That's exactly what I saw 2 or 3 times.

Hawthorne looked like young Mouton out there. His blitzes were great but he lost contain one or two times and on several plays (and one very important 3rd and long) he didn't get near enough distance on his drops to be effective in pass coverage. He's a senior but first time starter so maybe that can improve?